peter ebner and friends has completed a new exhibition space for the museum heldenberg, a private memorial built in the 19th century by an army enthusiast and military supplier in honor of the imperial and royal austrian army. in order to not compete with the original complex, the new section has been embedded mainly underground, within an existing hill, and offers a space where themes unrelated to military history can be exhibited.
all images by margarita spillutini
‘the quintessence of the project is its free shaping of space – which the underground location makes possible – while it also delivers a critical comment on the “white box”, that exhibition makers constantly call for as the allegedly ideal space for every kind of experimental presentation,’ notes peter ebner. the new section’s entrance, two exits, and three skylights stand above ground as the only visible elements, while the rest of the space unfolds below the hill. designed to direct visitors through the widening and narrowing of its passage, the interior incorporates a ceiling that rises and sinks at irregular intervals, and is punctuated by skylights that allow natural light to enter from above.
located above ground, the entrance to the new extension acts as visual orientation, while one of its exits leads into the old administration building, which mutates into a columnar hall at the hallowed grove with its stelae and busts of austrian war heroes. the second exit leads into the redesigned grounds of heldenberg, where prehistoric circular ditch systems have been reconstructed. ‘the intelligent exhibition building thus functions as a contemporary connection between two curiosities, one prehistoric, the other 19th century,’ explains ebner. ‘instead of the stelae and the stakes in the two outdoor complexes, here we encounter an interior that presents a surprising balance between depicting the tectonics of its surroundings and making a subjective gesture.’
name: museum heldenberg
architect: peter ebner and friends
design: peter ebner and franziska ullmann
architecture in austria (71 articles)
museums and galleries (131 articles)
peter ebner (5 articles)
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